Ganzouri to become Egypt's prime minister, military says

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Story highlights

  • Pro and anti-government demonstrations are planned for Friday
  • Ganzouri agrees to be prime minister after meeting a military leader, a spokesman says
  • Parliamentary elections -- set for Monday

Several planned demonstrations in Egypt Friday could test whether the nation besieged by recent violent clashes can remain peaceful.

The area around Cairo's Tahrir Square was eerily calm early Friday morning. There were no protesters and only security forces could be seen near Tahrir Square.

Since Saturday, protesters have clashed with police near the Cairo square, the epicenter of the movement that led to Mubarak's ouster as president nine months ago. Among other demands, they have called for the interim military rulers step down.

But the situation seemed to calm down Thursday after soldiers came to the area an erected barbed wire barricades to separate protesters from police.

Later Friday, there are several planned events that could bring large crowds to different areas in Egypt.

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One of those events is an anti-government protest lead by the Muslim Brotherhood called the "million man" sit-in. There is also a pro-military march planned for Friday afternoon that is scheduled to end at Tahrir Square.

These events come a day after Egyptian military officials announced that Kamal Ganzouri, a former prime minister, had agreed to become Egypt's prime minister and will form a new government,

    That development -- announced by Lt. Col. Amr Imam -- comes days after former Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and his government quit en masse, and days before Monday's parliamentary elections that Egypt's military rulers vowed Thursday would go on despite ongoing unrest.

    Ganzouri, who was Egypt's prime minister between 1996 and 1999 under President Hosni Mubarak, could not be reached to confirm his appointment.

    He met Thursday with Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, field marshal of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and Egypt's dominant force since Mubarak's ouster in February, according to the state-run MENA news agency.

    Ganzouri would remain prime minister until at least January 10, when results of the parliamentary elections are finalized, said Aly Hassan, a judicial consultant. After that, Parliament would have to back Ganzouri for him to remain in the position.

    The Alliance of the Revolutionaries of Egypt had proposed Mohamed ElBaradei, a 2005 Nobel Peace Prize winner and a frontrunner for the presidency of Egypt, to take over as prime minister, said coalition member Musad Ibrahim. He criticized the choice of Ganzouri, noting he is 81 years old and claiming "all his projects (in government) were failures."

    "The security council wants someone they can control, and Ganzouri is their man," Ibrahim said.

    Protesters remained massed in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Thursday, angry at the political transition process and the military rulers.

    By Wednesday, the death toll from the clashes stood at 38, including 33 in Cairo. Another 3,250 have been wounded, said Dr. Hisham Shiha of Egypt's Health Ministry.

    Egypt's military leaders did apologize Thursday for the recent deaths of protesters, vowing to prosecute offenders and pay the medical bills of the wounded.

    "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presents its regrets and deep apologies for the deaths of martyrs among Egypt's loyal sons during the recent events in Tahrir Square," said the message, which was posted on the council's Facebook page. "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces confirms that it is making every sincere effort to prevent such events from happening again."

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